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tv   Delano Grape Strike  CSPAN  October 31, 2015 10:30am-12:00pm EDT

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>> up next on american history tv, lorraine and cain who participated in the 1965 delano grape strike as a member of the workers organizing to discuss the strike's history and legacy as well as the early days of the farmworkers movement. the university of california, bakersfield and bakersfield college cohosted this 90 minute event. portion as a panel discussion on the history and pe strike.the gra it is an honor to have one of the heroes of the struggle, ms lorraine agtang. she is one of the surviving filipino grape strikers, a member of the agricultural committees tha started
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strike. she lived for years in the same farm labor camp outside of delano. she was 13 when the strike began in 1970, sheas won and her family went to work under union contract. they walked out on strike again .n 1973 she was the first manager of the retirement village that you saw that thelm near delano farmworkers movement built for elderly and misplaced filipino farmworkers in 1974. in 1970 five, with the passage of the agricultural labor relations act, they organized farmworkers from multiple ethnicities for the first elections. she has been a dedicated
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activist with the farmworkers movement ever since, and continues to tell the story of the contribution to the movement. is ms. mabalon a professor of history at san francisco state university with an ma in american university studies and a phd from stanford. her research focuses on filipino american history historical and cultural preservation and filipino-american food ways. choose the author of a filipina in stockton,nity california, which was awarded an honorary commission for the frederick jackson turner award by the organization of american historians. choose working on a biography of
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a labor leader, that we just saw in the film. secunda is a professor at the university of california. he earned his phd in american studies at brown university. he was a first-generation college students run a farm working background. his first book, life force and by fields, tells the stories of mexican immigrant workers in the agricultural andriy for his station industry in the pacific northwest. he teaches courses in food history, labor history, and immigration history. he founded the central valley oral history project and is creating a museum exhibit on the 10th anniversary. finding out does running out our panel is dr. holmes. historian and researcher with the american west at stamford.
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he earned a pastor's and master's from california state university, sacramento, and completed his phd at yell. he is the award-winning author of numerous publications on the political and economic history of california and the american west and has a forthcoming book entitled "the fruits of fracture: quote be corporate west united farmworkers union and the rise in reagan politics" -- and is the principal researcher for the center of california's coastal commission project. just 2 final reminders. each panelist will have two minutes to present. our timekeeper will inform you and you have 5, 3, and one minute left. to the audience, i would request you silence cell phones and be .espectful of the guests
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a question and answer will follow all of the presentations. thank you. lorraine: good afternoon. i was 13 when the strikes began. i remember working for the farm ,hen there was a commotion people screaming and yelling. my father said, we are leaving. i said, what do you mean we are leaving? you said there is a strike. i had no clue what a strike meant. when we left, he was saying that weref the filipinos leaving. it was interesting to see the amount of screaming and yelling. in my experience with the filipino farmworkers, they were pretty mild and nice hard workers.
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they don't want to make anyone mad, especially their grower. what was the commotion? from that point on, my life story changed. i would probably still be living in delano was seven kids working in the fields. that made an impression. my first exposure to civil disobedience. likes -- i was born in delano. born in a labor camp that we lived in with my six siblings. when the whole thing was over. i remember for me, i am have filipino and half mexican. the filipino side of the strike -- two weeks later, they knew they could not do it alone because the mexicans were working.
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larry and andy, and people came and asked them to join their cause. knew that this was going to be the time. if they did not get together then, they were never going to get together. intoember, sneaking filipino hall, how great it was to see theonally meetings with the filipinos and -- the workers working together for a common cause. being, like i said, historically pitting the workers against each other. i remember them telling us, the mexican worker crews are picking more grapes then you are, so we work harder to catch up.
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in the community, they did not have parties together. --ing them in filipino hall it made me a whole person, do feel whole, to even working together. then, when the 1973 strike began, that was when i got in all politically. -- got involved politically. they went on strike again. that is when the boycott began. the boycott began. i went to work with the farmworkers. i had a family and could not go on the boycott, though many families did. pictures, they all went on a boycott and chicago. they said they were going to the
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fields, now they were in chicago, new york, and all of -- theyes they resend were sent, asking every day inricans not to eat grapes the market. the new that five years later many people in the united states were not eating grapes. it hit the pocketbook of the growers. signed a policies in the camp. they were already old. they were not young. they did not need to go back to work. they said we're not going to go back to work, because they were old. before, and my job the first manager, was to go to the labor camps and try to talk to filipinos into retiring too, to the village. have you ever tried to talk a
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filipino into retiring? [no audio] .- [laughter] that is all they knew. they worked and died in a labor camp. there are stories of people finding money in their mattresses. my uncle, you never learn to speak english, it was in a labor camp. a quarter-mile from us. they -- many of them did not get married. marry. a lot for them to by the time they could, they were old and hurt. they were not going to get married. place, a offered a safe place, to die in dignity. clinic worked with the and like seeing the pictures where they had 40 acres. they had the clinic, they had a
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center so when people needed help with applying for social , therey or any paper were people there to support them. they had doctors 24 hours. friend, this was a five star hotel for them. they had a filipino cook. gardens. their overeople from all california would come to visit them. that waslabor of love built by labor people and college students from san diego to san francisco. they would come on the weekends to help. they grew attached. tomorrow is the celebration at
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40 acres. a lot of them will be your tomorrow. they loved the men. these were strong, proud, taught usng men that all so much about how to be able to stand up. it did me years to understand. they were standing up for what they wanted. they had to support that in delano. 1975 when the ever cultural labor relations -- when the agricultural labor relations act was passed and provided for a secret ballot elections, an opportunity to organize. by then, we were organizing , arabs, they were workers from many -- from all
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over the world that working in grapes. it was a great time. and, i have always been an activist. frome always represented capitol in sacramento -- i went to the capitol in sacramento to accept a filipino award. b one to three was added, i testified on the behalf of saving 123. i tell young people, you have to get active in your community. you have to know who's in your community. you have to work with everyone in your community, and unless
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you do that you will not get anything done. you have to work, you have to find out what the needs are of everyone at the table. together, you have to have each other's backs to get what you want. thank you. [applause] any questions? i want to make a clarification before the panel goes on. history of thehe filipino workers, they have an ,rganization called awa agricultural workers association founded in stockton, california. they were working with the cfo and hired larry when they went out to organize the farmworkers and asparagus. that is how the organization was founded.
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the cso went on to organize other areas and awa continued. they would have their crew bosses, with follow the harvest, they would go and they would negotiate the rate for the pay. when they went in 1965 to negotiate the rate they wanted, they got it. delano, the came to growers would not give them the rate that they wanted. -- to make ahe wants presentation on the topic you are talking about. we want to wait. i'm not going to get into a lot of detail. >> you can have a conversation after the panel. >> there is a statement that i want to address, just a brief history. when he went to negotiate, they didn't get it. -- the when they did
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history was if they did not get the rate they would do a work stoppage in 1965. on september 8, they did their work stoppage. they were at the meeting where they voted for the work stoppage. it took several days or it it was not two weeks, it was not the farmworkers association, or the mexicans were breaking the straight. at that point is a work stoppage. they wanted to see if the growers were going to give them their pay increase, and they did. that is where the and fwa -- the wa join the strike, eight days later. one of the early organizers will talk about that topic. ok, thank you, that is all. [applause] i got a question.
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ms. mabalon: good afternoon, everyone. i want to say what an honor it is to be with all of you and thank you to dean asher for letting me be part of this event. so, i want to begin with a quote from the philip vera cruz. how many of you have read this book? fill in veracruz, a personal history of the latino immigrants and the farmworkers i have met. my classmate is one of the editors of the book, so i want to give him props for this. [applause] ms. mabalon: in the book, vera cruz says, "our role in the union has not been written and sometimes intentionally deleted because the anglos who wrote the
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anglos who wrote the story did not know all the facts and we did not speak up." i just want to say what a privilege and honor it has been to be a historian of the filipino american experience and try to piece together the story of the filipino americans in the united states and the filipino role in america's back story. i want to give a back story. we can go to september 8 then talk about what happens after sw and what happens in the q&a in the succeeding panels, but i want to give a little more context about filipino american labor organizing. thank you, lori, for talking about awa, which i will talk about as well. when the strike began, one of the strikers talked to a local reporter and said this -- "for more than 30 years, i have been in strikes in the yield. -- in the field. i think we are going to win this
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one, but if we win or not, the growers will know they have been in one hell of a fight." i want to talk about militancy and discipline and the long history of filipino-american union organizing that brings us to that roman, september 7, -- rings us to that moment september 7, 1965, in filipino , hall in delano. we need to go to 1898 in which the philippines becomes a colony of the united states and the hawaiian sugar planters association begins to recruit filipinos into the sugar plantations, because other asian workers were prohibited from emigrating. in the central part and northern part of the philippines they decided they needed locals. they looked specifically for workers who were illiterate and wanted to make sure these were
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workers who would not try to organize. many thousands of filipinos wanted to go to this fabled land called america that their teachers had told them about that many of them lied. they were illiterate. their american educators had told them about something called a labor union. kind of ironic, right? empire is funny that way. i want to start with the sugar plantation workers in hawaii, who come over in 1906 and start to come by the thousands. this man, a self-educated lawyer, begins to organize. in 1920, he leads the filipino workers on strike. they lose. in 1924, he also leads filipino workers on strike, and they lose. these are the strike leaders. in this town on the island of hawaii, 17 filipinos are shot dead by police when they are out on strike.
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this is a terrible and violent strike. again, another strike that filipinos lose. the hspa boycott the filipinos not take chances. where do they go? they go to california. they begin to work in the fields and organize. in this labor migration cycle -- i will just go over this very briefly -- from february to june, from the 1920's through the 1960's and 1970's, the filipinos are working asparagus, in the delta area, and that is where my roots are. the daughter and granddaughter of farmworkers. from june to august, many of the workers are working in the alaskan salmon canneries. from august to october, they are working working in grape valleys.
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november through january, they are working in celery, or this is the season they take off. these filipino workers are working under brutal conditions. racial violence, rigid segregation. this is the famous positively no filipinos allowed sign in stockton. that is in a magazine in 1946. to survivein a way this brutal work, particularly asparagus in which they are bent over 10 to 12 hours a day, they begin to work in crews under contractors. they begin to innovate like , working by the piece or by the pound, and depending upon the contractor, for much of their needs for advances in pay and finding them jobs. the contractor system later on in the history of united arm -- united farmworkers will be something kind of controversial, especially as we get into the history of the hiring hall, and we can talk about that later on.
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filipinos also are working in the alaskan salmon cannery. in 19 33, filipinos start a union in the alaskan salmon called localn seven, and that union is still in existence now. many of the leaders of the agricultural workers organizing committee came out of the alaskan salmon cannery union. local seven was known as one of the most radical unions in the entire labor landscape. so radical that they were kicked out of the cio right after world war ii because so many of their leaders were either communist or accused of being communist. these were the founders of the cannery workers and farmworkers union. larry came to the united states at the age of 15 in 1930. he became vice president and dispatcher. amongst other labor organizing activities, he goes on strike.
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he organizes sardine workers in san pedro, and becomes a leader in this union. the leaders of the cannery workers union were murdered in 1934. much of this labor union history is marred by violence. leaders protecting the cells -- protecting themselves against police violence, against violence from employers, from other contractors, etc. so the leaders are murdered. at about the same time, filipinos working in the lettuce field in salinas form the filipino labor union and go on strike in 1934. this strike is also brutal and broken, but amongst the veterans of this strike are people like the leader in the alaskan salmon cannery union becomes a mentor , of sorts for many latino labor organizers.
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in 1939, asparagus workers in stockton for him union called the filipino agricultural laborers association. many members were also members of the alaskan salmon cannery union. at this point, filipinos had gone on dozens of work stoppages and strikes throughout california and the west coast. many had been trained by communist organizers working in the cannery and agricultural workers industrial union. by this point, farmers and new -- farmers knew that filipinos were among the most organized, militant, and disciplined strikers in all of american labor not just agriculture. , in 1939 on good friday, 5000 filipino-american asparagus workers walked off the fields in stockton, crippling the easter sunday harvest.
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in a day, the growers capitulate. filipinos knew if they walked up the fields together militantly, organized, that they could win. when they do this on september 7, even have to understand this , is all about this longer history of how filipinos are winning, inand certain instances. this is a meeting of the filipino agricultural laborers association. that union, actually, died by world war ii. most of the men in that union joined the military and there is a no strike pledge, and when they come back, they are red baited. many of them, pretty much, --p farm labor organizing with the exception of one union. that is the radical alaska salmon cannery workers union, local seven.
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they decided to start organizing in the fields, and why not? all most all of the members before working salmon were working asparagus in stockton. this is a meeting after world war ii of the meetings of local seven. chrismanee larry and in this photograph. they are planning a huge asparagus strike in stockton for 1948. this is the strike. asparagus workers walk off the 5000 field in stockton. veracruz -- this is the first-ever strike he has participated in. unfortunately, they lose. they are red baited. the community is split. they win some concessions, but essentially, that union dies. this is a building in stockton's little manila where that union was headquartered. this is where they were headquartered.
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, many are accused of being communist and many have to lay low. more complicated, but i do not have much time. the folks emerging from this union are no longer organizing because of the fbi surveillance left-wingd the leaders of the filipino-american labor movement. larry continues to do labor organizing. he settles in stockton. and one of his friends who had been a leader in the 1948 strikes, begins to meet with an organization called awa, led by thomas mcauliffe. they also put pressure on the aclu to start organizing farmworkers and that was the agricultural workers organizing committee.
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among the first organizers of awa -- this is larry about the time that awa was organized. he started organizing and -- organizing in stockton, but very quickly they realize how valuable he is. he gets sent down to stay almost permanently in delano to organize workers from there. working by him is al green, and ben gines. that is in a sense there. that is a whole another history i don't have time to talk about, but we can perhaps talk about in the q&a. in may of 1965, the awa in coachella goes on strike. hundreds of strikers about 500 , members walk off the field and
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demand a dollar $.45 an hour, but many are arrested. they get the $1.45, that they do not get a contract. but the growers work out a they work something out where the charges are dropped against the arrested strikers, who are sitting in jail for the $1.45 an hour. now we get to september 7. film picks upthe the story and talks about the filipinos who decide they are going to demand $1.45 an hour and $.25 a box, and the lockup on september 8, a moment that veracruz says was like an incendiary bomb. on a bitterly cold day, in 1966, pete velasco wrote, " workers had awakened the long fastest
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the giant that had composed of the agricultural workers in america, with walking off the field. thank you. [applause] [indistinct chatter]
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[indistinct chatter]
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[indistinct chatter] mr. sifuentes: ok, some problems with the screen, but i will get started. my talk is entitled, "the modern foundations of
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workers," and what it wanted to do today was take us out of the central valley to talk about the ramifications of organizing and how it spread to other organizations across the u.s. this is coming from portions of my book called the forests and fields, labor in the pacific northwest. the story begins in mount angel , oregon. the colegio was an experimental four-year university that was meant to marry the real-life learning and real-life knowledge that farmworkers and immigrants had and match it with your traditional college learning. many people had no idea this existed until later. but at its inception, it was a very sort of radical approach to
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education. nod it was the first chica serving institution in the united states. the colegio had a number of different important people famous at it, the very to con artist -- [indiscernible] -- was an instructor there. but perhaps the most famous alum that went to school there was a portland trailblazer, bill walton. itself had can of a mixed bag. it was successful at times. chicanos in its first year. so it did have its moments of success. unfortunately, there was a lot of financial mismanagement and other things that took place at the university that ultimately caused it to close down 10 years
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later in 1983. the reason that it is important for what we are talking about today is not just his namesake, but also one of its most famous alums or one of the most prolific alums, a guy who is born in delano and went to oregon to go to college at the university of oregon. when he got there, he discovered that there was this place called colegio. the pictures that i would be showing here is a picture of him with his friends in delano. with their brown berets. oh, here we go. yep. [applause] so this is the cover of the book, which will becoming out very soon. from rutgers university press. this is the poster of colegio.
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and this is a rally. they tried to close the school down numerous times. and these are a number of different rallies that took place to try to keep the school open. in delano. is colegio, he went to met up with two other individuals. one from east los angeles and another from chicago, illinois. and they got together and really started talking about some of the things that were going on in or gone at the time. they were experiencing a number of raids, workplace raids, house rate by the ins, and deporting people from the pacific northwest. and he, obviously having this connection, helps that he needed to do something in particular. so he got this group together and they formed an organization called the lamb it valley
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organization. -- will laminate valley -- wil lamette valley organization. first of all, it was very committed to undocumented immigrants. this is one of the early flyers that says -- basically telling people with or without documents, you have rights. and -- [indiscernible] ins thewould race to tension centers. they were try to convince people not to sign voluntary departure farms. and they formed these kind of study groups where they would study immigration law to really try to figure out what was the appropriate way or the best way to kind of go ahead and start slowing these deportations down. and so what they did was back in those days you could perform immigration law through a certain certification.
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with that certification, you are able to go before an immigration court and challenge the deportation of various individuals. so one of the things that they did was try to find a new legal strategy for keeping the ins from deporting workers. and what they came across was this idea that because immigration -- for because immigration law and on -- being undocumented is not technically a federal offense, it is a civil offense, some of those legal defensive that defendants have done apply to immigrants. so there is no, for instance, protection against illegal search and seizure. there is no protection, you know, against having a lawyer present. these pets of things don't exist in the kind of typical civil proceedings, so they didn't apply to immigration proceedings. but the one that did apply that they started to use was the
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decision, or the ability not to self incriminate. it would work in front of immigration court. so this is what they theorized when they first began to meet. and they found they got a chance to practice that in court. in 1980, in a course called -- [indiscernible] -- they were proven right by the immigration court that immigrants do not have to identify themselves as undocumented. they had the right to remain silent. they had the right to not self incriminate. this becomes the basis of their immigration law practice. variousrt to do different flyers, big organizing, they have workshops, they have clinics where they are telling undocumented immigrants, you don't have to incriminate yourself. don't say anything. call us. we will have that fight for you. and so this is the 1980's. they started working in the
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immigration rights and immigration community. and what they discover ultimately is that even if we keep doing this work, at the end of the day, they are still being exploited at work. so what are we going to do? we can't just be in immigrants right organization, we also have to be a union. so what they decide to do, this brilliant maneuver, is after 1984 when the immigration reform and control act is passed, there is a whole host of immigrants that already trust them, and says, what do we do now? we don't understand this law. we don't understand if we are eligible for citizenship. says in a stork of genius, we will do all of your paperwork, we will help you become citizens, but you have to become a member of the union. so this is where they begin the basis of their union, which i
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will talk about a little bit later, but still exists today. so what you see here is a picture of him with his first-class of citizens. these were all undocumented farmworkers working in sort of the portland -- outside of the portland metropolitan area, who get their citizenship and become the first members of the group. they are tree planters and farmworkers northwest united. years in 1986, a couple after that, they had their first founding convention. there he is on the far last. -- left. and they get support, obviously, from the usw. relationship.
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and they differ on the politics of immigration at the time. serving the ufw served in integral part two the sort of moral support of getting the organization of the ground. chavez would come fairly regularly to talk to the different organizers and offer advice. and they consistently sort of picked the brains of chavez, and other leaders. so he begins organizing in the fields in oregon. oregon at the time had what would be considered as one of the most draconian anti-labor laws in the country. there was an anti-picketing law. there were laws against -- you know -- there were laws for your organizers come also took different obstacles to the process of organizing. so one of the first things he does is file a lawsuit with route in 1977 law that outlaws picketing by non-workers on a
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particular target. and so once that law is overturned, in 1989, the next year they launched their first major agriculture strike in history of oregon. so oregon had virtually no large-scale organized strikes up until this moment in night scene 90 -- this moment in 1990. this is what i described in my book and this is the strike itself. i think one of the most important things to remember wast -- or to know about it they took these very unique kind of approach to organizing workers. they sort of fully embraced the social movement aspect of what they did. acrossgan organizing various different unions, social movements, religious organizations. and in addition to that, there
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started to see union success in a different way than just measuring contract, which is i think again a lesson they learned from the ufw. at this particular strike, the grower refused to negotiate a contract, and they didn't on a contract. so what they decided to do was have a strike. they took over this labor camp, renamed it after the first indigenous president of mexico, and what really is important to remember here also as well is that by the 1990's, the majority of immigrants to oregon and to the united states in general were indigenous immigrants. it becomes an incredibly flexible organization. they start the higher indigenous organizers, who speak indigenous languages and go out and work with indigenous communities.
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important,ally symbolic moment for many of the indigenous workers. another -- this is a photo kind of -- the oregon version of the contract signing. the first contract being signed in organ. -- oregon. and i think what continues to be dynamic about this organization is that they, for instance, this is a trilingual radio station that speaks to various different farmworkers in the woodburn, salem, portland kind of area. they call it the people's radio. this is where they talk about if a strike is going on what a movement going on or even if there is, you know, community organizing events going on, all these different things, this is
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the sort of mass media for them. the other thing that they have taken very seriously to sort of they are today is taking over this idea of leadership. and so, understanding that larry -- sorry -- larry, ramon played a huge role in the organizing and effectiveness of this organization. they started about 10 years ago to worry about what happens when they are gone. and this is precipitated by one death in 1995. so, when they really start thinking about this, they start sort of organizing and fundraising in order to create what they now called the leadership institute. what they do is they train young children or farmworkers and of people and other organizations
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to be organizers and community activist. one of the most recent graduates of the leadership institute, he is running for state assembly men this year. just announced his candidacy a few days ago. this is kind of the vision they are having. it is a labor union, but it is a much bigger kind of holistic approach to organizing. community organizing. and seeing, i think, the kind of failures of leadership in the past, understanding that this movement can and will die with them if they don't do something like this. so this is the fruit of that kind of work. thank you. [applause] [indistinct chatter]
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mr. holmes: is it already in there? [indistinct chatter] [indistinct chatter]
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mr. holmes: there we go. all right. technical problem solved. ok, good afternoon. it is really a privilege to be here, and in honor to take part in this historical event and celebration. i want to start by thanking the organizers, as well as bakersfield college, for these wonderful events here that have been organized the past few
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days. again, it is a real privilege to be here. today, i am task with wrapping things up for this panel. actually byo do so taking a different tact -- there we go -- i am usually loud enough. and take a different tact. we have heard at many of these panels, especially today, of this vibrant activism and this wonderful movement on the ground. today, i wanted to go and take a broader look to see how this activism on the ground affected the powers of top. and i want to hit on two of those political and economic legacies, two of the impacts i want to focus on today of the movement itself. i really started religious with the question -- started my work with the question of what the movement challenged. and this also gets to the other
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question of what affected -- affect did the challenge have on california and national politics? i'm going to discuss this in three parts to try and trace out this process for you. first of all, it is the challenge of business. but we usually look at this as a challenge to agribusiness. what i wanted to show today is the ripple affect, the economic ripple effects of the boycott. and the challenge that tightknit power structure within california that are called the corporate west. what we see is that it is not the most the sexual agriculture movement in united states history, but it represented the most significant challenge to american business in the 20th century. and when there is a challenge to business, there is a challenge to politics, right? and this process, what i want to discuss today, is how both
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parties, the political center broke. this isn't really anything new or any of the participants of 1960's politics. but we usually describe this and talk most of this changeup with the democrats going left, republicans going right. this is usually race, civil rights. but i want to show that the break in the political center, much of it was business politics. that challenge to business was so important. that i will last speak on, reaganism. it was the first labor dispute rag and ever confronted in his -- reagan ever confronted in his political career. this is what i call corporate conservatism. we can better define as a very business oriented -- [indiscernible] besides our rhetoric a free
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market, it uses the tools of government to protect and foster the interests. so if we get started, we go to the corporate west. i really like this picture. a very pink floyd kind of thing going on. but to understand what the movement did, we need to first understand the structure and the economy that it challenged. the california economy looks like this. usually you would have these four pillars, transportation, banking, energy, land and water. after world war ii, we would add defense to that. and we get this little other sliver that has ballooned up to a massive primary sector -- each pillar, what you would have his corporations that would dominate each. these are the homes of bank of america, wells fargo, boeing, sp railroad.
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and more importantly, these are not just economic sectors. this is a tightly interwoven corporate community. they should boards of directors. and as we see, all of them had a very vested interest with the primary industry at that time, which is california agriculture. one in three jobs in this state was linked with that. and here is just a list of those. it gives you an idea. again, this is what i want to keep in mind. the economic ripple affect. these effects that are standing out. importantly, on a sidebar, and our current discussion about agriculture and water, here is the multiplier effect that they keep missing. agriculture is still only 2% of the gpd. if you factor this in, you have to put at least another zero behind that.
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fun for historians sometimes. structure that underpinned this, believe it or not, this is -- [indiscernible] -- with both republicans -- and democrats. i call this corporate liberalism. this is a fancy economic term we can find as bipartisan balance. business on the one hand. we see this early in the century. this is johnson, your progressive good a longtime california senator, thomas, as well as rockefeller. what you also see is this on the democrats, right? and, ofafter fdr course, lyndon johnson. right before the movement started, you had a landslide victory by lbj. we usually associate him with civil rights act, the great
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society. this is the war on poverty. he beat conservative republican barry goldwater with the backing of business. most of your nation's business was behind that texan right there. but this was about to change. and this changes when we look at the challenge to business paid and the stocks with the usw boycott. -- and this starts with the usw boycott. by 1968, it is all california grapes. and it is not just grapes. it is also the stores that sold them as a secondary boycotts. big leverage right behind the movement. and it goes international. canada, western europe, the philippines, mexico. and this is what really gives the power behind this, the lost cause of coalition. -- la causa coalition.
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century, ity, 20th 1950's politics. you are not finding this anywhere. the,e to call this housewives, and hardhats. fancy alliteration. religious groups across all faiths. white middleur upper-class housewives. who is not buying grapes? the latter. 1956, the much to sacramento. this is the first time you see this dynamic coalition sprawled across the capital. and we see this nationwide. on no other front in the 1960's with these people be standing next to each other. they are at odds.
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again, when you look at what is interesting, the many strategies that kept this coalition together. thathat we can also see is this really gave the poor got -- the boycott the economic edge. in the late 1960's, and the 1970's, this organization such as the u.s. chamber of commerce. is saying how will we deal with these boycotts? they characterized it as consumerism. this is the number one threat to business as they would call it. we would see this spread. general electric. throughout the 1960's and 1970's. again, when you have a threat to business, that will trickle down to the political arena. we see this especially heading -- hitting democrats -- hitting democrats from the start. the confluence of race, and
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industry. you're going to have to choose. business or labor. you can no longer have both. we see this in the 1966 election between brown and ronald reagan. brown, just like lyndon johnson and other democrats, first of all, they tried to stop the movement with silence. farmworkers. don't worry about it. it didn't. he navigated that middle ground between business and labor masterfully for decades. the movement was not going to let him off of the hook. they put the pressure on. they met him at every campaign rally. they would do the cartoons saying -- come on pat, stop wavering. pat brown does lose. the most important is that what
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started with pat brown would spread throughout the democratic race. in 1960his again spearheaded by bobby kennedy, one of the original supporters of the move meant. we see this with hubert humphrey. what is one of the first things he does, he pinned a usw button on his lapel and marches through the financial district of san francisco. you want to send a message to the corporate west? by 1970, this is complete. and we see this with the same assembly speaker, also known as big daddy, whose relationship with business was best captured in his famous quote, money is the mother's politics. he spearheads this on a national by 1972, when ted
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kennedy is up there greeting his boycotters, the support of his work cut campaigns was written in the national platform of the democratic party. so they move right. again, i can only touch on it briefly due to time, but when business comes into the republican party, it is not this month to directory from goldwater in 1964 to write it -- to reagan's part of the -- presidency. you had liberals, and dare i say moderates? [laughter] the important thing for here is to realize that business consolidated behind ronald reagan. that shouldn't really be a surprise. business was at the heart of reagan's political career from the very beginning.
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these are his main business advisors. they form the friends of ronald reagan in 1965. later, when regulatory and, they came with him. under the new name of the presidential advisory committee. talk -- they talked to ronald reagan on the phone every single day. but it is not a just -- it is not just about money. they hand-picked the group appeared this is where it comes down to boxes in the hen house. his administrations would be packed solid with businessmen and corporate lawyers. and many of them were tapped with going to regulate the industry's that they -- industries that they came from. you had businessman for the first time in decades in california all caps to the department -- tapped to the department of labor.
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your public utilities commission, that was -- [indiscernible] -- and at&t, the very corporations that are supposed to regulate. we see this in action, what i call corporate conservatism. laborpartment of certifies all the usw's labor disputes. reagan vetoes a bill -- insurance bill for farmworkers three times during his presidency. meanwhile in kissing state funding and subsidies to agriculture. prop 22 in 1972. more partly, he spearheaded the opposition to the ufw. we saw this in the video earlier. liked to eate grapes, the forbidden fruit.
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this is an administration working with the you timber -- with the chamber of commerce. they worked with agribusiness to draft state legislation. that is what the murfreesboro oh -- the bill distributed to 75 other states that we would surpass in 1972. this is what gives you the past in arizona. kansas, idaho, or we get a boycott of idaho potatoes. and they also worked on the $4 million anti-boycott campaign. raggett's -- reagan's governorship, you see a lot of this. corporate taxes while you are increasing the state budget. the largest tax increase in history.
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this all again was going to foreshadow what we would see shoppersent, causing to notice what happened in sacramento to stay in sacramento. say is thei would most important political effect you into the usw movement have. interest is government going to serve? those of labor and society, or those in business? that is a very important delineation that no other movement did and something we still confront today. thank you very much. [applause] >> are there questions for any of our speakers? if you do have a question, please go to the microphone to
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ask because we are recording with c-span here today. >> don't be shy. [laughter] >> this caressed and -- question is directed to anyone that wants to answer it. i don't know, it has been my impression that the ufw has lost power over the last several decades. you never hear the ufw -- talk about it or publicize this, but the amount of money they are dealing with is smaller than before and membership is down. would anyone like to comment on what is causing that?
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>> we will let the reagan guy do it. [laughter] organizing farm labor is extremely difficult. i think anyone who works in that knows that. this is not like a union trick -- this is not like other unions. we have to think back to when we first had industrial unions in america. that is difficult. if you look at your united auto workers, for example, you organize someone in that union and they would come into the workplace and they had a steady trajectory. i will move up in the work late. -- workplace. you don't have that in foreign labor. this was not a job where people want to sit around for 15 years and move up. it was extremely difficult. you have a turnover that is hard to keep.
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i would also say that one of the other unintended consequences is that business begins to mobilize like you have never seen. genesis of your super packs today -- super pacs today. did a think about that, calculation of 1980, that is huge. nobody, not even labor, had that. so i think there is a lot of difficulties. we also see the movement of that magnitude is also very hard to sustain. you can only way to boycott for so long -- wage boycott for so long. we get to board. with his interest. difficultys a lot of within that aspect as well.
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mr. sifuentez: i think traditionally the way we have explained sort of the deteriorating power of the fw is to explain it in relation to the states. and the role the state has played and the role that business has played. i think what is happening now as people are writing more and more books and are more and more research in the archives is that we are finding that there was a lot of internal reasons that this happened as well. there is a lot of ethnic tensions, very different things that take place within the union. he is definitely red, there is definitely a mobilization that takes place against the ufw, there are also some missteps. we really need to grapple, especially now with this anniversary, about some of the missteps. i think that is partially what i was trying to convey in my talk
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is that even though the reagan era -- the unions in the reagan era suffered, this is exactly the same time when they are successful, when they are rising, when they go to be one of the largest farmworker unions in the country. helping is all due to undocumented immigrants. there are various reasons for that happening, and that big a lot of people are now starting to read about it and discuss it. what happened internally that could've been done better. we could have done better. we need to think about answering that in terms of the filipino-american role in the ufw. he leaves in 1971 and among the reasons that he leaves is because he feels it is an
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undemocratic union. and this is going to be a problem that plagues the you fw internally -- the ufw internally for at least a decade after he leaves. as i have been trying to understand what happened to filipinos is also about what happens to the ufw as well. that is the story in my also. scholarship has been coming out the last few andrs and has to mount -- has helped tremendously. for filipinos, we got it a few weeks ago and we had several labor organizers -- e-mail -- filipinos are no longer in the fields in the numbers that we were. but filipinos are having major challenges organizing across the globe because we have become the home care and domestic workers of the world.
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so how do we look at the lessons of these filipino labor organizers to try to understand what we need to do for the future? that is something i am also trying to do as i uncover the very past -- uncover the buried past. mr. want to add -- sifuentez: i want to add to that. there is a lot of us who are digging into the ufw archives right now. my graduate student, who couldn't be here today, she is working on that. and a have their own story and their own data they want to look at. so i think one of the things that we keep in mind today is that this is only going to get bigger and there will only have a more people -- there will only be more people around it. and we are taking on students of our own who are doing this work
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as well. so i think there is a lot of questions still to be answered. >> i think there is a lot of history that if you talk to people who were really involved, there are a lot of people in delano, even when we had the events a couple weeks ago, the percentage of people there is very small. and those people that aren't there, you know, really don't want to have anything to do with any other. people go in and talk to those individuals because i have talked to some of those people. they have their own history. so there is a lot of history there. i think when we take that time to go in and look at that history is what -- when we find out what happened all the way around. mr. holmes: an absolutely
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important point to show the diversity. of course, i had the slide of nixon the moderate up there. one of the things if you want to talk about missteps is that the ufw did -- [indiscernible] reasons whyre many that is going to be difficult for agricultural workers. but that perhaps also would have done is also open up opportunities for workers of outside ofriculture just california, but also nationwide and other organizations to make a foothold and try collective-bargaining because unless i'm mistaken, california still the only state that has agriculture labor relations act. and this is 50 years later. and finally, who does trust nixon?
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, thenk the 1960's campaign picture of nixon with the question, would you buy a used car from this man? it said volumes. so that is a complicated issue. but i would also say that the california rural legal assistance program, that deal was overridden eventually by richard nixon. murfreesboro, that never saw the light of day by richard nixon. again, it is complicated, but just a few missteps that only in hindsight can we probably see. primarily question is for don. and you highlighted the militancy and discipline and dedication of the delay no farmworkers. -- delano farmworkers. i'm wondering to you if that seems to be in part consequences
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of their circumstances. since they weren't allowed to america, most of them were single men. i wonder if you thought they were risking or sacrificing somehow less because they didn't have wives and children that they wouldn't -- that they would have been not able to feed it>> in my book -- feed. >> in my book, i talk about filipino workers. most of them, their wives are either in the philippines or they are not married. and they are also young crazy men in the 1920's and the 1930's. they are, like, we are here for 10 years, ladies. i'm going to get rich and i'm going to go home. stories of the early about the first years of the grape strike, a lot about telling filipino men put your guns and knives away. this is supposed to be nonviolent. and also issues about the nature
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of the strike and the social movement of the strike of the role of religion. the issues the filipinos have in the you fw, too, that is based on the long too, that isw, based on the long history of the organization. think about now being told they are going to much 266 miles behind a statue of the virgin mary. when i asked my dad, wanted me to join the ufw? he said, that is not a strike. marching behind a statue of the virgin mary? that is not a strike. guys are very militant that, like a said, they were in one of the most radical unions in the ilwu. they come from a pretty tough
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history before they get to delano. i was going to say, we have these memories of these old, kind gentleman. but you push them and the wrong theyyou take their job all are on strike, they will burn your barn down. it is really interesting stories about what we had to tell the filipinos. [laughter] expand ond to further what i feel is part of the answer to this gentleman's question in terms of the ufw membership growth. you have to remember the strike went on for five years. we were able to get the grape contracts. they were three-year contracts. during that three years, the workers did enjoy giving the benefits of decent wages, health and safety regulations in terms of pesticides. they had the kennedy plan
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established. so they had medical insurance and, as others mentioned, the -- [indiscernible] -- was established later for the filipino brothers who had worked hard all their lives and were able to get medical care. the contract expired in 1973, and as the ufw was renegotiating the grape contracts while at the same time there was organizing and people walking out on kill thewanting to vegetable industry up in the salinas valley, the union leadership was juggling a lot, including the renegotiations of the grape contracts. at the same time other growers were negotiating with the you fw leadership, there -- ufw leadership, they were also meeting in a separate room with a sound contracts. so that is when the second
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strike entered. and a lot of us went out onto a boycott after there were some killings in the field. we were able to get, thanks to our current governor, governor brown, to get the agriculture labor relations act passed. at that time, there was a lot of organizing that went out -- went on out in the field. unfortunately, they were not -- there was not a lot of meat in the law in terms of forcing the growers to come to the table and bargain with the ufw in good faith. and they were committing a lot of unfair labor practices. were planningufw these unfair labor practices that went all the way up to the state supreme court. also, the agriculture labor relations board was only as good as the people who the governor at the time appointed to enforce
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the agriculture labor relations act. i don't know if it was a misstep of not including the agriculture workers in the nlra because of the differences in the needs of the workers in terms of access, a lot of different things in terms of the harvest, where workers would move and follow harvesters, a lot of different things. but also i think there was a point where we even stopped organizing in the field because they agriculture labor relations board was not during their work. even to this day, there have been cases that have been up in front of the, you know, the california supreme court, and they are still working to get some, you know, meet in terms of the act to make the growers sit down and bargain in good faith. i hope that answers your question a little bit more. >> thank you.
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>> i was very gratified to see dawn, give us a transnational perspective of the entire experience of the filipinos and california. this transnational perspective starts with the spanish-american war. it is something extremely important. and i would like to call upon all this dollars -- although scholars to do the same thing with the mexicans. one of the fall -- false myths that exist is that the organized within the u.s. bubble. and that is not true. there had been a huge revelation strugglenot only against the landlord, but took them down and gave them power. so by the time have strikes in california in the central valley, we have decade upon decade upon decade of
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radicalization, organization, and so forth from mexicans in mexico, and then they come to the valley and contribute to. so i hope that your example, which i really admire, is starting with the real story in the philippines and how they brought with them the great expanse of unionism acquired not just in the philippines but in hawaii is exactly how we should do labor studies in the central valley. you give us a great example. could you go a little further -- you mentioned religion and the fact that lupe is not particularly a filipino icon -- could you talk a little bit about the masons? wereerstand the freemasons essential to organizing through the decades as the catholic church was for the mexican farmworkers. >> great question. thank you. thank you, dr. santos.
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i'm trying to give a short answer, but it is a very long answer. the masons play an important role in the philippine revolution aired jose organizes -- revolution. jose organizes others, who are kind of the elite of philippine society, through their membership in masonic orders. and early in the 20th century, there were several copycat masonic orders that were established. one of the most important and powerful in the united states was a masonic order called the legionnaires of labor. the legionnaires of labor, they looked pretty much just like a masonic lodge with 33 degrees and the secret rituals, etc., etc. and they came out against the electric company in 1912. those are some direct routes. -- roots.
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members in america included larry, pete velasco, rudy. and my father -- that is also how he knew larry. they were brothers in that way. and so when we talk about kind of that militancy and thus bonds that many of these filipino workers have, to have the bonds of their town and kinship, but bills are the bounds -- the bonds -- but they also have the bonds of them being masons. whatever you guys say in your secret meetings, you know, they make promises to each other. not to cross each other's ticket lines. that is why 5000 filipinos can all stand up and walk out because they have that relationship with one another. aspect is an important of kind of the filipino part of the ufw, there were a brothers
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in the most radical of the copycat masonic orders. i think there are secret communists, honestly. my uncles and my dad would never admit it, but they would elect a queen every year. anybody who is a u.s. the storyyears. of spies, thedow haymarket affair. in chicago. they knew their labor history. i am 10 years old, why is the queen call that? don't worry. [laughter] i go in the encyclopedia and it is like, my god, my uncles are all marxists. [laughter] i tried to make that a short answer. >> thank you very much. we are going to take a break and we'll have the panel reconvene at 3:30.
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so, let's do that. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [indistinct chatter] announcer: "american history tv" is featuring c-span2 original series, "first ladies" at 8:00 p.m. eastern time on sunday nights. c-span produced this series and cooperation with the white house historical society. through conversations with of historiceo tours sites, and questions from the c-span audience, we tell the stories of america's 45 first ladies. now, pat nexen. this is
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♪ [applause] [video clip] pat nixon: i stay in the wings and don't come out in front too often, so this is quite unusual for me, but i do want to thank all of you for your friendship and your loyal support and for planning this wonderful evening for me. i shall remember it always. and thanks to the young people for this great welcome. susan swain: pat nixon, the first republican first lady to address a national convention, miami, 1972. she went from a hardscrabble background to the white house. as first lady, she traveled more widely than any before her, made volunteerisms her issue, and was a chief supporter and behind-the-scenes political adviser to her husband, president richard nixon. good evening, and welcome to c-span's series "first :


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